Indias National Academy of Letters organised a national seminar on “70 Years of Indian Independence” on Friday as part of its ongoing Festival of Letters. Eminent scholars and writers presented their views on the literary portrayals that have found light of the day over the past seven decades.
In one of the sessions of the Seminar — devoted to “State in Crisis: India in 1950’s and 60’s & Literature” — and chaired by Prof K. Satchidanandan, three eminent scholars, Prof Udaya Narayana Singh, Subha Chakraborty Dasgupta and Prof Dhananjay Singh, presented their papers.
In his speech Satchidanandan addressed the issue of aesthetic transformation of Indian literature and stated that India of the 60’s was characterized by urbanization which was very well portrayed in literature and depicted in the films of that time.
Professor Udaya Narayan Singh stated that the problems India faces today are very different from what it faced in the 50s and 60s while Dasgupta said that the 40’s were a turbulent period for India as it saw the Partition, the famine of 1943-44 and the consequences of Gandhi’s assassination. Dhananjay Singh, on the other hand, mentioned that disillusionment of the Indians happened after Independence.
Another session was devoted to “War Literature in Indian Languages” and chaired was by Bhalchandra Nemade. Three eminent scholars, Bhupendra Adhikari, Prof Jatindra Kumar Nayak and Prof. Rajkumar, presented their papers.
Nemade pointed out that the concept of war is deeply rooted in India and, for instance in Maharashtra, could be seen in the titles of literary works or names of political parties which started with the word “Sena”. Nepali writer, Bhupendra Adhikari, mentioned that Indian war stories carry details of brave men like Guru Gobind Singh, Maharana Pratap, Maratha warriors who fought back the Mughals, and these acts of bravery fascinate readers. Jatindra Kumar Nayak made an attempt to examine the impact of war on the native populations and talked about the dramatic changes that crept in Odisha when World War II broke out. Prof. Rajkumar, on the other hand, talked about the invasion of Chamba by Pakistan, the bravery of the Indians, the Tashkent Declaration and the final outcome of the war.
The next session was devoted to “Emergency and Writing as a Political Tool” and was chaired by Prof. H.S. Shivaprakash. Two scholars, Ved Pratap Vaidik and Alok Mehta, presented their papers during this session. Vaidik talked about Emergency and how different people reacted to it while Mehta quoted Dhoomil to highlight the plight of citizens during Emergency.